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Tunch Ilkin Announces Retirement from Broadcasting, Will Focus on ALS Treatment

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Tunch Ilkin announced his retirement from broadcasting on Thursday, as the former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle and radio analyst will focus full time on his fight with ALS.

“I have had 37 years in the NFL, with 14 as a player and the last 23 in broadcasting as the color analyst on the Pittsburgh Steelers Radio Network, and I’ve decided to retire,” Ilkin told Steelers.com. “I was diagnosed with ALS in September 2020, and I want to spend this time focusing on my treatment and fighting this disease. I would like to thank Steelers President Art Rooney II, the Steelers organization, and the fans for their continued support and prayers at this time.”

Ilkin announced his ALS diagnosis last October, and while he may be stepping away from the booth, he is by no means slowing down.

His busy treatment regimen includes cold laser therapy, runs on the underwater treadmill and Wednesday morning walks with close friends and former teammates on Mt. Washington.

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“When I’m on that underwater treadmill, I always remember the time when Chuck (Noll) was running on a treadmill, and me and Wolf (Craig Wolfley) and Terry Long were there working out, too,” Ilkin told Steelers.com. “Chuck was shuffling and doing footwork that offensive linemen do while he was on the treadmill, and then he jumped up at one point and fell, and he looked like a bottle of Coke rolling around. We all cracked up, and I think of that just about every time I’m doing my underwater running.”

Selected in the sixth round of the 1980 NFL Draft, Ilkin played 13 years for the Steelers at offensive tackle, earning a pair of Pro Bowl nods in 1988 and 1989. He also served a five-year term as the Vice-President of the NFLPA.

Ilkin officially joined the Steelers radio broadcast team as a color commentator in 1998, calling games alongside Myron Cope and Bill Hillgrove. He took on the analyst role full-time following Cope’s retirement in 2004, and has been breaking down the Steelers ever since.

“I just had fun. I had fun, I worked with two legends – Bill Hillgrove and Myron Cope – and I had fun with those guys,” Ilkin told Steelers.com. “And when the Steelers open the regular season (against Buffalo), you can bet I’ll be watching the game.”

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